I'm somebody who basically is certain what we call "child abuse" is at the heart of pretty much anything you can name that's stupid about the world. That's been a fair certainty with me for about three years , shortly since the time I first began trying to find out all I could about its stupid, leering, blood-soaked, putrid, evil, disgusting ass.

A little girl had been killed in my town by her parents and I came unhinged (obviously?) because of it, is the short version of all that. Both parents had been sentenced and were safely out of the way but I'd just for the first time started reading the newspaper accounts. "Toward the end she didn't even cry," for instance, was in the court testimony of her sister, referring to the end of an ordeal that lasted months. The murdered girl had been four. I remember being four. And ten and sixteen and twenty-four for that matter. But I remember four very well. It was as though I had read about an old enemy, one that I haven't managed to escape after all, one that's still just 'out there', one that exists outside the persons of that girl's parents or yours, or my own.

Whether the rest of us know or admit it or not, bottom-line this is the one and only real enemy of every person on earth, which (I know this could be tough to believe) does not come out of religion itself (though abuse easily accounts for religion's existence! Hello all you uber-intelligent people thinking all that wonderful stuff out there??? And yes, the little girl's mother was photographed coming out of court holding a bible) but rather the insane, stupidly physical and/or sexually and/or psychically violent "normal" urge human beings have to damage and twist the next generation into little mutant robot copies of themselves.

The answer to "What the hell kind of monster was it that killed this girl?" and "What can we do to kill it or at least keep it from attacking?" wasn't one I'd even come close to expecting. "Biblical proportions" comes to mind, though I can't quite think how to work that into a sentence. Anyway, yes, I've been on a mission from God about this ever since. Tough beans if missions from God annoy you. Sometimes they're important.

As it turns out, fighting Stupid is not just a matter of calling peoples' attention to "child abuse". Over and over I run into a big-time catch: the easiest way to put it is just that apparently every single one of us suffers from 'denial'. It could also be said that while some see the forest without much problem (many others do see exactly the same thing), the majority have trouble because of all the trees right there smack in their faces.

As ironically, when speaking to atheists (who at first you'd think might have the clearest view), since saying "the root of all evil is child abuse" is to make what sounds like an "extraordinary" if not oddly unusual claim. Hopefully you see how that could be a problem. Of course there are extraordinary mountains of evidence with which to back up the assertion. We're drowning in it, actually, and more keeps coming all the time. But still for the most part the "real world" just keeps stubbornly (or more accurately: "obediently") looking the other way, like Mormon clergy unable to face DNA evidence regarding American Indians' ancestry (Native Americans are supposed to be "fallen Jews"). And since they are human, looking the other way is a trait to which scientists themselves to an alarming extent are just as prone as anyone.

The "Biological Model of Mental Illness" is a case in point, something I was surprised to find related to Stupid at all. What that "model" ends up amounting to when seen this way is Original Sin dressed up and repackaged all over again: except that this time the trouble is in your genes rather than your soul, the point of it being that somehow what's wrong is still your fault--or at any rate not anyone else's; that if you're not finding happiness in life there's something wrong with you. (But, thank Science, we do got pills for that! And at least one of the manufacturers of them is an amazingly huge contributor to religion, monetarily.) And saying "The 'Biological Model' is to 'Intelligent Design' what Eugenics is to 'Creation Science'" won't win points with many despite the undeniability of it. But feelings of self-worthlessness are always man-made and artificial, always instilled by one external, worthless scumbag or other. Cultural pathologies are cultural pathologies, not transmitted by genes and not innate in humans. Science should be ashamed for in this case being a very real part of the problem.

But the learned are nothing if not authorities, people who are shaped, stamped and approved by the likewise shaped, stamped and approved people who came before them, and so it goes. Which puts us back to the trees and back to square one. Even Freud had it right at first, they say, selling out and reversing himself only under pressure not just from colleagues but from clients who came in dragging kids with one hand while waving money with the other crying "Doctor! Something is just dreadfully wrong with my child! Whatever might it be do you suppose?" The fact that his "drive" theories are in "disrepute" doesn't change the fact that money still talks and the fact that kids still aren't the ones who cough up the coin.

But of course, while maybe energizing at first, the more most people think about all the everyday horrors surrounding it the more the argument seems to weaken since--with the plausible exceptions of Adolf Hitler's father and Joseph Stalin's mother and maybe the parents of a few thousand serial murderers and boatloads of criminals and psychopaths and school shooters and suicide bombers and and death row inmates and things like that--NObody is or ever has been "for" child abuse. And they'll tell you so--if you don't believe me just ask them. 'Twas thus as well when it came to wife-beating and slaveholding: "Too" much discipline would be of course uncivilized, but only a fool would deny the importance of educating the poor creatures properly--so the "proper" balance between sadism and masochism is the "reasonable" compromise that even these days "rational" thinkers among us seek.

Really--while I believe that religious parents who (otherwise) stand for and support the rights of children (and these people very much do exist) are more part of the solution than atheist parents who beat their kids, I think atheists generally are in a much better position than anyone around to knock this thing in its stinking rotten teeth. God is the "ultimate" authority but parents are the original, real ones, most often acting on his "behalf". They need to stop being offered "honor" and "forgiveness" and instead be confronted and recognized as "What's Really Wrong With This Picture". Of course nearly everyone has a "good side" to them and in many or even most people that side is unquestionably substantial. But as it is with religion, good where it exists does so despite the shadows that stand there with it, not as the consequence of them as we've been commanded to believe. Since no human child has ever been born that did not completely naturally honor the bejeezus out of its parents, the only reason such a "commandment" would ever be stamped in stone is so it could be used as a weapon.

As I said, my own interest lies in childrens rights generally, as opposed to specifically religious child abuse, though religion arguably accounts for a huge bulk of the problem. But to tie my rant to the group's purpose: a book concluding that violent child-rearing methods serve the underlying purpose of "creating droves of activists on an authoritarian mission" is Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse by historian Philip Greven. It's one I haven't read. I just learned of it last week, from chapter 6 in Max Blumenthal's Republican Gomorrah which can be read here.

Last thing but I think it's important: there's no question to me at all that this issue supersedes politics. It's no "liberal vs. conservative" thing at all though it may seem so at first. In the end it could be said that politics is just another tree in the forest. And the idea is to try to back up and see things from a distance. The big trick may be to find a way to do that without being too badly marginalized oneself, but I think anyone who manages it will see that cruelty thrown on the backs of weaker persons is in fact the whole face of Insanity, is more widespread and deeply systemic than any normal person imagines. I can't think of a single institution in which it's slimy fingers can't be found.

Inactive as it seems to be, Krista did a great thing to have started this group. There's nothing more important.

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Replies to This Discussion

Although I'm not sure I completely understand your point - probably mostly because I have a medical condition currently that gives me brain fog - what you wrote made me think and I always appreciate that. Thanks for contributing.
:) Thanks for the chance!

Was surprised yesterday to see Philip Zimbardo speak for two minutes at a debate featuring Harris, Dennet, Hitchens etc., etc. Zimbardo's most well-known, I think, for his Stanford Prison Experiment, the point of which I suppose ended up being "power corrupts". Basically I remember him thanking students in the audience for dancing with him at some event the night before, I guess, and then basically just saying "What the world needs now is heroes."

That's my point too, I'll bet for the same reason. Returning rights to children and treating them with respect isn't just a "nice cause", or some kind of luxury. It's a question of survival. Standing for children is the world's one and only Get Out of Jail Free card. Anybody can play it just by saying "That's wrong!" when they see a kid treated badly, and more of us need to. We're wasting time expecting somebody with power will ever straighten out the world anyhow. Power practically by definition is about "ownership" and so it won't ever fix the underlying problem: too many of us being taught right from the start that we're nothing but prisoners, that we must always "obey". But courage can go a long way toward fixing that. Which is why it's good you started this group. NObody wants to talk about it, it seems, but nothing's more important. There just aren't any outsiders anymore. Thanks again for the chance.


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